Apple Hits Back At Facebook For Privacy-Invasive VPN Targeted At Teens

A portrait of Facebook found Mark Zuckerberg is seen on an iPhone in this

A portrait of Facebook found Mark Zuckerberg is seen on an iPhone in this

Apple wants to make it clear that anyone who breaches their policies will get punished for it, regardless of their size.

Yesterday, news broke that both Google and Facebook had built data-sucking "research" apps on Apple's enterprise app program and that both companies were caught distributing these apps to research participants outside the company. The news comes after Apple already banned Facebook's data-harvesting Onavo VPN app from its app store in June of past year.

Yes, this is for real, Facebook says, but it was so not secret.

One of Facebook's independent child safety advisers has criticised the firm over a scheme that gave it access to teenagers' highly personal information, without taking more effort to verify their parents had given permission.

Facebook confirmed the research program's existence to TechCrunch. Users from the age of 13 could participate, but those below the age of 18 needed to be a part of a family program in order to participate, hinting at parental consent that wasn't present in Facebook's Research application.

It was through Onavo that Facebook first learned how WhatsApp was sending nearly twice as many messages as their messenger. The company also used the Onavo data to track usage of its rivals and to block some of them - including Vine, Ticketmaster, and Airbiquity - from accessing its friends data firehose API. But like Facebook's app, Google's Screenwise Meter could be downloaded outside of the App Store, via a Google download link.

He said Facebook's claim that users understood the scope of data collection was "muddying the waters".

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In the wake of the Facebook VPN scandal, it was recently revealed that Google has also been abusing the same Apple backdoor to collect data from users as young as thirteen.

We've contacted Apple for comment and will update this story when we receive a response.

Because of the relatively more open nature of Android, internally distributed apps, beta versions, and Project Atlas are still available on Android, though not distributed through the Play Store. It had yet another similar program called "Project Kodiak".

Google released a statement this afternoon saying it is "working with Apple to fix a temporary disruption to some of our corporate iOS apps, which we expect will be resolved soon". Namely, it circumvented the App Store by using testing tools from Apple that are typically used to install software that's still in development.

As reports of rage and confusion hit the media, some Twitter users took a more zoomed out perspective, using the crisis as an opportunity to mock Facebook's notoriously overbearing company culture.

"If Apple considers this a violation of its Enterprise Certificate policy, it could shut down Screenwise's ability to run on iOS", TechCrunch noted. On Wednesday, an Apple spokesperson told TechCrunch that the company had already blocked Facebook Research the day before, before Facebook "voluntarily" pulled the app.

In a statement to TechCrunch, Google said its Screenwise Meter app "should not have operated under Apple's developer enterprise program - this was a mistake, and we apologize".

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